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Climate Change Updates: Earth’s Axis, Underestimating Warming, Pandemic Effects, Oil Industry Shake-Ups

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Climate Change Has Been Altering Earth’s Axis For At Least 30 Years
The planet’s spin on its axis is determined, in part, by the distribution of weight around the globe, in the same way the spin of a top is determined by its shape. Satellite data from 2002 and later had already shown that climate change is altering this weight distribution, largely because melting glaciers and ice sheets have caused the North and South poles to drift.

Satellites May Have Been Underestimating Earth’s Warming For Decades
The global warming that has already taken place may be even worse than we thought. That’s the takeaway from a new study that finds satellite measurements have likely been underestimating the warming of the lower levels of the atmosphere over the last 40 years. Basic physics equations govern the relationship between temperature and moisture in the air, but many measurements of temperature and moisture used in climate models diverge from this relationship, the new study finds.

The Pandemic Didn’t Slow Climate Change
The average temperature on Earth is now consistently 1 degree Celsius hotter than it was in the late 1800s, and that temperature will keep rising toward the critical 1.5-degree Celsius benchmark over the next five years, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization. “We had had some hopes that, with last year’s COVID scenario, perhaps the lack of travel [and] the lack of industry might act as a little bit of a brake,” Cerveny says. “But what we’re seeing is, frankly, it has not.”

Oil Giants Are Dealt Major Defeats on Climate Change
On Wednesday, stock investors ousted two Exxon Mobil Corp. directors seen as insufficiently attuned to the threat of climate change, while Chevron Corp. shareholders voted for a proposal to compel the company to reduce pollution by its customers. Royal Dutch Shell Plc was ordered to slash emissions harder and faster than planned by a Dutch court. It was a humiliating loss for Exxon, the Western world’s biggest oil company, made worse by the fact that the the effort was championed by an activist with just a 0.02% stake. Chief executive officer and Chairman Darren Woods battled against the tiny fund for weeks, calling its nominees “unqualified,” and offering concessions just hours before the annual meeting. The board even held up the vote in a last-ditch attempt to secure more support.

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